Bones of the Lost, Kathy Reichs

I’m playing a little catch up with my Temperance Brennan reading. Kathy Reichs’ forensic anthropologist turned crime solver grabbed my attention because off the TV series based on the books. Though the two Tempes are different in many ways, they both captured my imagination.

In Bones of the Lost, Dr. Brennan gets caught up in the sad homicide of an undocumented teenage immigrant, the examination of mummified dog remains from South America, and the criminal investigation of a military shooting incident in Afghanistan. Three seemingly unrelated cases. The first a case with the Charlotte, NC medical examiners office, the second a courtesy to US Customs, and the third a “drafting” by Military Intelligence. As she proceeds with her unconnected investigations it grows increasingly clear that at least two of these cases may be connected.

From the slums and seedy underbelly of Charlotte to the war torn villages of Afghanistan, our heroine tries to solve these mysteries while battling fatigue, emotional issues over her ex-husband getting remarried, the distance – both geographically and emotionally – of her only daughter, and the resistance of both local police and US Customs to make the investigation of the teenager’s death a priority. In typical Reichs fashion, the reader is sucked into the parallel investigations and sees through Brennan’s eyes how heartbreaking and terrifying it can be to jump deep into the criminal mind and try to understand the PTSD effects of an on-duty shooting death in the Army.

Fans of the books will not be disappointed, first time readers (familiar with the TV series) might find the written stories of their favorite forensic anthropologist much different from the one on the small screen. Either way, the book is captivating and current to today’s world. Reichs often takes story ideas from her own professional experience as a forensics anthropologist and from the news. In this novel she addresses child trafficking, PTSD, and the illegal import of archaeological artifacts from around the world. Viewers of the TV series will note that even on the TV screen, Tempe attempts to tackle such intense issues.

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